Lessons from South Africa

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Want to reduce your odds of being attacked?  Adopt the South African lifestyle. 


Though an extremely beautiful country with wildlife and gorgeous mountain ranges reaching its spectacular coast line, South Africa in notorious worldwide for its violent crimes and has been called “The Crime Capital of the World”.  Last year’s World Cup put this country and its cities of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg into the world’s spotlight.  It is within these cities where its vulnerable residents are forced to cope with a violently dangerous lifestyle.


During my long journey to South Africa, I sat next to a mother of five (5) children living in Cape Town.  I asked about crime in her country and her eyes opened widely.  She exclaimed, “You have to always be expecting an attack!” She went on to use the word “hi-jack” several times during our conversation which made me a little uncomfortable since we were on an international flight which departed from Heathrow of all places.  I soon realized a South African “hi-jack” is when criminals steal your vehicle or force their way into your home at gun point and rob you and then leave in your car.  She went on to say, “Everyone knows someone in South Africa who has been hi-jacked.  You must always be ready.  We also never send text messages while walking down the street.  We must always be alert!” 


I believe the below front cover of a South African newspaper which I purchased on May 26, 2011 during my visit tells the story:



They may not know it, but South Africans have adopted the United States Marine Corps (USMC) color code system of awareness. This color code system is similar to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) threat level system, but instead of focusing on the threat, the Marine’s system focuses on controlling your mindset in order to quickly identify a threat in order to stay safe!  Your mind is always your best weapon.


In short, “Condition Yellow” is the relaxed 360 degree awareness.  This is the color you want to adopt.  You should never be caught off guard and if you implement Condition Yellow into your daily regiment, you become much less vulnerable.  Remember the flight, fight or freeze scenario?  Condition white is when you are totally unaware, yellow is a relaxed alertness, orange occurs when you identify or spot a potential threat, red is taking action and black is freezing.  The late Lt. Col Jeff Cooper created this system and the S. Africans have adopted it.  When it comes to personal safety, there is no compromising or negotiating.  You should adopt Lt. Col Cooper’s system too.


Perhaps some of you may be thinking, but I don’t often feel vulnerable and I don’t know anyone who has been attacked.  Excellent!  My goal is for all of you to feel this way and remain feeling this way.  In the meantime though, thousands of women are attacked every day in the United States.  Our police forces have detectives and criminal investigation units and our counties and states have correctional facilities because these crimes are absolutely part of our society.  Adopt this system and you better your chances of never being attacked or forced to feel vulnerable.    


Though they live in a more violent and dangerous society, most South Africans are actually safer than the average American!  Their culture has given them a major advantage over us.  Confused?  Simply put, they are ready!  They have visualized what would happen and have a defense plan in place in case they are attacked.  We call this system “When/Then Thinking” in my SABRE Personal Safety Academy Classes.  Aside from having a plan, they also discourage attacks because they are alert, confident and ready to protect themselves. 


You have the opportunity to protect yourself and your family.  Adopt the South African safety mindset.  It’s not difficult, and this simple step could save your life or that of a loved one!  It’s a very smart thing to do.